At the end of the school year a first-grade student sent me the following note, “Chandler is so good and fun, and I have felt every feeling you can feel at Chandler, but I have never been bored because there is always something fun and interesting to do. Will we be back to normal or will we make our classroom like this once and for all?”
Last week, Pasadena’s Public Health Director Dr. Ying Goh let local public and independent schools know that the 2021-2022 school year should not be approached as business as usual. The California Department of Public Health’s easing of distancing restrictions allows Chandler to return to our traditional configuration of two classes for each lower school grade level (K-5) and four classes for middle school (6-8), but universal masking, irrespective of vaccination status, will be required indoors at school. For now, masks will not be required outside. So, the answer to our first grader’s question is that back-to-normal is a way off, but the start to this school year will look a lot more like a typical year with some modifications.
California State and local health departments, public school districts and independent schools like Chandler are committed to having all students return to school in-person this fall. Chandler will not be offering a distance-learning option. Some details about our protocols are included in this bulletin. More information will be forthcoming before the start of the school year. As always, we will continue to monitor recommendations from the health departments and may need to make changes to protocols. As we have learned this past year, we need to remain flexible.
Chandler’s Medical Advisory Committee of doctors and researchers led by Dr. Ram Kumar Subramanyan continues to advise the school as we respond to changes in state and local guidelines. As the number of people susceptible to the virus declines, the likelihood grows of a return to a maskless normal, but that is unlikely to happen as the delta variant spreads among the unvaccinated. Being patient and vigilant about masking and hygiene measures is not new to us. Having students back at school is the highest priority.
Reflecting on last year, Chandler’s School Counselor Adrienne Hollingsworth said that her focus was on keeping childhood going. That’s an obligation we share as a community as we prepare for the new year. It’s a focus we need to sustain throughout the year.